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International Journal of Education (IJE), Vol. 3, No.

1, March 2015

TREND IN INFLUENCES ON CAREER CHOICE


IN QUANTITY SURVEYING AND ITS
IMPLICATIONS
Samuel Ekung*1& Ejike Okonkwo2
1

School of Built Environment, University of Salford, M5 4WT, Greater Manchester, UK


2
Department of Quantity Surveying, University of Uyo, Uyo, Nigeria

ABSTRACT
This study examined trend in determinants of career choice in quantity surveying between 1960 till
date.Views from 335 respondents collected via structured questionnaire were analysed using
descriptive/inferential statistics. The study reveals in the 60s, personal interest drives choice of career in
quantity surveying. The trend however diminishes significantly in the 20th century. As a result, there islittle
progression from the undergraduate to post graduate studies in the profession. This is unhealthy for the
future of the profession.The study provides an understanding ofthe critical threat to the sustainability of the
profession and brings to bare exciting theoretical insights.

Keywords:built environment, influences, interest, quantity surveying and trend.

INTRODUCTION
From the days of Willis [41]till date, when predictions of future changes in the practice of
quantity surveying (QS) profession began, several changes have shaped the profession as a body
of knowledge. Most times, change drivers are predicated to redirect completely the profession
and some even threaten to exterminate it. The profession may not have escaped unscathed in
these experiences but it often emerges stronger with evolved roles and opportunities [11].
According to [14], changes are everywhere; the possibilities of worst scenario are futuristic.
Development in information technology (IT) remains the leading driver of change in the
profession. Disaster risks, economic meltdown, sustainability issues, and evolution of new type of
clients and project organisations are also significant factors ([11]; [35]). The revolution in IT in
respect of Building Information Modelling (BIM) has generated so much debate in practice and
the academia. There is a prediction of possible extermination of quantification and other
traditional roles of the quantity surveyor[32].Like other new technologies, this view is perceptual
becausetill date, BIM significantly depends on traditional cost estimating practice due to the lack
of compatible cost data [20].
The emerging challenges appear surmountable, but the critical yeterroneously ignored issuesare
the interest and passion drivers in the profession. It was Jack Welsh who noted, If the rate of
change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near. Threats imposed
by ICT are not effective without human capital to propel it. The sustainability of the profession is
about the future and must be rooted in education, training and investment in human capital. This
must significantly be built around the beginners and not limited to the established professionals in
the field. Genuine interest and passion are critical to the future of the profession. Contextually,
how young entrants contact the profession is deemed to impact on the interest and passion of the
students. [3]had foundthat young graduates are abandoning the surveying profession and
prospective students lack self-motivation to enrol in the profession.
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International Journal of Education (IJE), Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2015

In order to explore mechanism for improving interest and passion among the young entrants into
the profession, needs subsist to examine what drives people interest in the profession in the past
and now. This objective and its realisation will benefit QS education in a number of ways. First, it
will facilitate the need to redesign policy and programmes that will propel and sustain genuine
interest and passion in young entrant. Second, it retains the tendency to promote sustainable
institutional hegemony in the profession. Third, it will provide a yardstick for assessing the
suitability of curricula in the profession in view of making them more attractive.

Quantity Surveying
Quantity surveying is concerned with cost and financial management of construction projects. Its
expertise enhance the design process through logical use of cost parameter to sustain viable links
relating price, utility and forms which assists in attaining the employers objectives within the
predetermined budget [23]. The responsibility of the Quantity Surveyor include cost assessment,
evaluation of economic and contractual arrangement of the project which is often significantly
prejudiced by factors in the environment, and changes that are exclusive to individual project
[37]. Experience over the years underpinned the significance growth in practices and procedures
of the quantity surveying since establishment [26], many decades ago. Basically, the expertise of
the quantity surveying profession is anchored on key knowledge including: construction
technology, quantification convention, construction economies, financial management, business
administration and construction law [1].

Theories and Application of Trend Studies in the Construction Industry


Todays society depends heavily on the ability to predict the future in order to plan and optimised
its potential benefits. There may be obstacles due to the inability to predict the future but progress
can be builton past experiences and emerging trends to learning needs notably in the developing
countries. Scientific approaches abound for predicting the future. [9]stwelve methods novel
research attempts in this area. A study by [6] found five of the methods very useful in the context
of the construction industry: scanning; scenario planning; trend analysis; extrapolation from
expert interviews/pooling; and brainstorming. Scanning depends on published information and is
an on-going attempt to recognize significant trend in the practice overboard the parties carrying
out the scanning [9]. Scenario planning reinforces [14] position that greater impactful changes are
yet futuristic. Fig 1 is the Plausible Cone for predicting the future in respect of the past and
present. The increasing diameter of the cone explicitly indicates the expanding uncertainty
surrounding the prediction of the future. The implication of the cone however is that, imminent
improbability is not only a case with the prediction of the future but also in understanding today
and the past [40]
Trend analysis and extrapolation considerably remains the focal objective of the present study. It
relies significantly on the ability to study specific changes in the environment either to determine
the rate of change or predict the direction of change. However, while this study focuses on the
direction of change, the accuracy of this method tend to decrease as the timeframe into the future
increases [6]. Another approach is the expert interview/pooling which collects data via interview
from experts within the profession. Experiential knowledge plays a significant role in this
approach. It is however not uncommon, to find remarks such as in my 20years of quantity
surveying practice, the profession has been predicted to extinct yet it get stronger with new
opportunities. Relevant data and or useful extrapolations can be made from these sources. A
contrast technique from the previous one is brainstorming. It involves group deliberation rather
than extrapolation from individual sources. Harmonize approach from these context was adopted
by the study.
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International Journal of Education (IJE), Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2015

Figure 1: 'Plausible Cone for Predicting the Future [40]

Career Choice Influences


Career choice can be describe as the process of selecting a career based on estimation of the
candidates capability, values, and skills prerequisite to generating success in a given profession
[6]. It involves preparation and development of mental image by an individual in matching
personal strength and weakness to the requirements of selected profession [4].A conceptual
model of career development comprised of four phases: awareness; exploration; orientation;
preparation; and continuous advancement education [27]. While the first four stages can be
influence from elementary through secondary school, the fifth dimension is limited to individual
aspiration and interest. The importance of personal interest in the subject and future usefulness is
identified in [39]s study.
Two theories are prominent in the study of career choice: sociological and deterministic school of
thoughts [34]. The former asserts human beings are free agent in the market place with freedom
to choose while the later enthused human beings are regulated by societal influences. From these
theories, two perspectives are derived namely: choice based on personal enthusiasm and
influences imposed by people above a subject. Selecting an occupation or career is therefore
subject to a range of factors. Job preference is at the centre of career choice influences in all
works of life. [25] decried skills shortage in construction and allied profession due to preference
to service-oriented and information based jobs. Family or parental influence is another
popularly opinionated research finding in career studies.
Family of origin influence on career choice is widely acknowledged in the literature [16; 4 and 6].
[25] found that family members employment in construction related industry influences both the
decision to study and interest in pursuing a career in construction. According to [6], this influence
impact also the decision-making process and the career an individual chooses. The potency in the
snarls increases in a collectivist culture. In this culture, respect for and obedience to ones parents
is significantly prioritised, and the attitudes of family members are therefore a strong determinant
of career choice [4]. The criticality of family influence is anchored on it pivotal role as the most
important agent of socialization [13]. Other factors are highlighted in Table 1. 30% of the study
sample in [13] chooses career in the built environment due to reasons different from prospects in
the profession and personal interest. 30% in the referenced study also expressed outright apathy
to their chosen career. [13] sample consists of students in the real estate. Lack of role model has
been identified as a disincentive to career choice in construction [22] among other factors. [12]
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International Journal of Education (IJE), Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2015

defined role modelling as someone in the society a student is admiring, trying to be like and
someone who inspire them. Family tradition and peers influence were the least factors in [8].
Work experience or hand on the type of job prevalent among post graduate students in this study
was also significant in [17].
Table 1: Influencers of Career Choice in the Construction Industry
Authors
Career Influencer
Desired course/personal interest
Gambo, Osagie & Ogungbemi (2012)
Parental influence
Peer influence
Previous work experience
Early school counselling
Change of admission by institution
Potential job placement at completion
Fried & MacCleave, (2009)
Status and prestige
Media coverage
Interest in construction
Koch, Greeman & Newton (2009)
Hands-on-type work activity
Career placement
Family business

From the foregoing review, career choice is broadly considered in the literature. Although these
studies tend to focus on engineering, business and education, very few are dedicated to the
specializations in the Built Environment and quantity surveying. The multiple perspectives in
which the subject is studied across different industries endorse the importance of the research
subject. But however, previous studies ignore trend study generally and therefore suggest the
need to consider trend in influences of career choice in the different professions. The focus of this
paper is to analyse the trend in factors influencing career choice in three decades of quantity
surveying. Using this trend, the study attempt a perceptual evaluation of its impacts on the level
of interest exhibited by quantity surveyors in practice and quantity surveying students at
undergraduate and post graduate schools in Nigeria and the UK.

Research Methodology
Trend studies depend significantly on the approaches discussed in the previous literature section.
However, the strategies are often translated into practical implementation using questionnaire
survey, interview, workshops and observation. These methods are increasingly being used e.g. the
Construction Industry Institute (CII) - strategic planning committee [5; 24]. The present study
adopts questionnaire survey personally administered and using an online survey. Sampling by
snowballing was adopted based on the need to sample only respondents in the quantity surveying
discipline. Snowballing involves selecting samples based on network [19]. In this approach, few
individuals in selected organisations were contacted first and information obtained from them.
They were afterwards asked to identify useful persons in their network who later became
respondents.
Quantity surveying students at under graduate and post graduate level at the University of
Salford, UK and Imo State University, Nigeria, practising Quantity Surveyors (QSs) in
Manchester and Owerri, Nigeria were snowballed. Survey in Nigeria consists of members in three
social media groups: QS Lounge, QS- World Wide Network and Built Environment Researchers
Group (BERG). 335 respondents were contacted and administered with survey instruments but
135 questionnaires were received and analysed. This is equivalent to 44% response rate. This is
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International Journal of Education (IJE), Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2015

above acceptable threshold in construction research. Inferential statistics, t-test and ANOVA were
employed to analysis variation in the trend.
In designing the questionnaire, careful analysis was given to the factors affecting the accuracy of
survey research design. With and inert objective to reach as much respondents as possible,
identifying the respondents through snowballing was not without hitches, but sufficient time was
allowed for the development of the networks. Common problems with questionnaire survey are in
the design and administration. To overcome these barriers, common-sense wording to reflect
normal conversation level; sending questionnaire with individually addressed letters which
explained the purpose of the study with a promise for feedback and series of follow-up reminders
was carried-out.
The questionnaire was designed to collect data mainly on factors influencing career choice within
the QS profession. The study focused the generation of quantitative data only. To achieve this
aim, respondents were only asked to identify factors, which influenced their decision to study the
profession at the entrant level. With this approach, discrete identities are counted and objective
perception evaluated thereby eliminating the subjective perspective that floods most construction
management research. By the subjective approach, the construct of the research theme is generic,
respondents are often required to rate their perception based on certain identified numerical
scales. The data collected in this cannot be used with inferentially and the tendency to
probabilistic statistics is minimal. Consequently, in order to enhance participation, the
questionnaire contained only a single question, which enlists influences on career choice in
tabular form. other component of the tabular question was segmentation of the three decades in
review. This was to enable respondents picked their era thereby eliminating excessive data coding
and processing.

Results
From Table 2, career choice among the undergraduates is driven by family influence parental
influence and family business factor; impact of role model and early school counselling and
interest in construction is low. Among the post graduate students, parental influencediminishes
while interest in construction increases. The critical drivers among post graduate students are
hand on type work and job potential in the profession. The population of student at the post
graduate level notably MSc and very few PhD are people from allied fields. Among the practising
Quantity Surveyors, personal interest leads other factors parental influence also remains critical.
Since parental influence cannot be separated from the choice of career in quantity surveying,
there is need to promote self-motivation in students. According to [40}, judging from parents
experience, the probability of career advancement is minimal for a person in family influenced
career. Although early career development can play a significant role in the life long professional
capability, it can further determine future career progression and overall success [21].
Levenes test of homogeneity (Table 3) indicates variance in score in 1980 to 2000, and there is
no variance in 2000 till date, (sig = .05 and .74; valid at >.05). While there is no significant
difference among the population score (sig. = .421 and .543; valid at <.05), the study however
indicates a high F-value, which translates into asignificant variation in influencers of career
choice in quantity surveying in the decades studied. Two tailed t-test also revealed a significant
difference between QSs trained in 1960 to 1980 and others (sig. =.003 and .003; valid <.05). The
trend tends to decrease from critical personal motivation and role model factors towards more of
parental influence and family business sustainability objectives. The implication is declining
genuine interest among young quantity surveyors in training across different continents.

International Journal of Education (IJE), Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2015

Discussions
Psychological, organisational, cultural, and economic factors influence the choice of career and
success in the chosen profession [18]. Studies by [33] and [31] in the Nigerian context found that
first decade QSs exhibit more expertise in costing, monitoring and control and were respected for
their pragmatism by allied professions than presently experience. Does the changing level of
interest generate needs for transition in the younger quantity surveyors? Apparently yes! [2]
found that todays QSs desire to expand the frontier of the quantity surveying practice. However,
[31] argued that, such extended frontiers are yet rooted in the core competence of the profession.
[26] also recognizes the difference between 20th and 21st century graduates and those of past
decades and advocated the need to understand and manage the changing orientation of the
younger generation in order to sustain a practice. [3] also discussed changes in the attitude of new
graduates in the Surveying profession in Nigeria. Obsolete curriculum is pinpointed as a leading
factor contributing to the decline in passion by prospective and graduate surveyors.
Table 2: Respondents Influences onCareer Choice in Quantity Surveying
Post
Practici
Trend in Decades
Influences
Under
ng QS
graduat Graduat
e
es
1960-80 81-2000 01 to date
4%
46%
40%
18%
7%
Personal motivation
Parental Influence
22%
4%
33%
9%
12%
29%
Peer influence
4%
0
9%
4%
Early School counselling
4%
0
9%
4%
9%
Act of God
18%
0
4%
18%
Potential job placement
13%
22%
13%
4%
7%
Media coverage
0
4%
Interest in construction
4%
11%
13%
4%
11%
7%
Hands-on
type
work
24%
7%
activity
Status and prestige
9%
7%
4%
2%
Role model and mentor
4%
11%
8%
11%
11%
4%
Family business
27%
9%
4%
2%
7%
Total Population
42
45
48
45
45
45

r
.482
.14

Correlation
sig.
.113
.964

Table 3: Test Statistics Summary


T-test
Homogeneity Test
p-value
Sig(2Levene
Sig
tailed)
Statistics
.003
.889
15.000
.050
.003
.925
4.131
.740

ANOVA
F-value
Sig
1.167
.885

.421
.543

Surviving today and future market is dependent onthe commitment made now. The imminent in
the industry is to build competence around practising professional. Competencies, like the
profession is never stagnant but rather changes over time. Over reliance on building competencies
for the future around practising quantity surveyoralthough necessary does not underpins
sustainability. Danger loomswhere future QS lack the passion to rejuvenate his competencies in
the future to suit emerging frontiers. The bulk of professionals in the academia today for instance
were trained in 70s and 80s. Interest and passion for the profession must therefore drive the
campaign for programme and policies aimed at sustaining the quantity surveying profession.
Emphasis must be placed on stimulating genuine career interest at the entrantlevel into the
profession against the widely acknowledge parental influence in the last two decades. Parameters
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International Journal of Education (IJE), Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2015

within religious organisations such as religious bulletins must be explored and utilised and career
counselling in primary and colleges also intensified. The potencyin this materials is based on the
sacredness with which information receive from theseplaces are treated.
Post graduate curricula must be redesigned to address career development needs of the
progressive young quantity surveyors from undergraduate studies rather than focus on people
seeking career in QS from allied professions. While there are very few progressions in the UK to
MSc and PhD, students from QS background atMSc level often finds the core QS modules
unattractive as it merely summarisesthe knowledge gained during the undergraduate level. The
existing trend predisposes the few knowledge seekers at that level to diversifying mainly into
management. The chances are that, in the next two decade, when the few genuine interest holder
are gone, there will be little or no genuine interest holders in practice besides the very few in the
academia.
Factors such as globalisation, communication and leadership, and technology adoption are the
suggested knowledge areas where the future of the profession can be built on. It is important, as
emphasised in Jack Welshs quote, the change must be driven from within to the outside. BIM
revolution portends imminent danger due to the fear of possible hijacking by people outside the
enclaves of the profession because it is not driven by Quantity Surveying professionals andnot
extensively by those in the industry. In-house expertise and revolution must be targeted within the
profession through research. Research in the profession must outstep descriptive model testing
inquiry to model building and software development. Steps must also be taken to address the gap
between graduates and their integration into practice. Formal restructuring of the graduate
internship programme is necessary in this regard. [10] advocated strong conceptual skill-base to
build on, in which practice and the academia must provide.[36] also advocated stronger linkages
between the academia and practice. The profession have also being tipped to emerge as leader in
the construction industry [30]; impetus is however placed at the door step of todays leaders in the
profession. They must drive and build impetuses towards exploiting and stimulating genuine
interest at the entrance level.

Conclusion
Based on the perceived declining interest among young quantity surveyors in training and the
need to stir genuine interest that will sustain the profession in an ever changing market, the study
examined trend in influences of career choice in quantity surveying in Nigeria and the UK
between 1960 till date. Determinants of career choice were elicited using structured questionnaire
and trends variation analysed usinginferential statistics. Self-motivation and role model drives
career choice in the 60s and diminishes significantly to reliance on family and parental influence
in other decades. The implication is declining genuine interest among young quantity surveyors in
training across different continents. Refinements for genuine interest stimulation were also
recommended. The message is clear and young quantity surveyors must change or like the
Dinosaur be condemned to the anal of history.

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